• Risk of Being Overweight or Obese among Army Spouses: The Impact of Deployment, Distress, and Perceived Social Support

      Fish, Tammy Lynne; Harrington, Donna (2013)
      More than half of spouses of U. S. Army active duty soldiers are overweight or obese. In the U.S. almost a half million people die annually because of health related problems to being overweight or obese (Robbins, Chao, Baumgartner, Runyan, Oordt, & Foneseca, 2006). The military spends $1.1 billion a year on problems related to being overweight or obese for active duty military personnel, retirees, and their families (Dall et al., 2007). Method: Permission was granted from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the University of Maryland Institutional Review Board (IRB) to use the 2008 Active Duty Spouses Survey (ADSS) for the secondary data analyses used in this dissertation. Multiple and logistic regression analyses of U.S. Army spouses (n = 1863) examine the association of deployment status within the last year (not deployed, deployed but not to a combat zone, and deployed to a combat zone) with weight status, as measured with body mass index (BMI) scores (healthy weight versus overweight or obese). The independent variables examined were gender, age, race, rank of soldier, education, psychological distress, and perceived social support scores. Results: Deployment status and weight status were not related (p = .097). Three-quarters of the male spouses and almost half of the female spouses were overweight or obese. Spouses of soldiers in the enlisted ranks (E5-E9), minority spouses, and those without at least a four-year college degree are more likely to be overweight or obese. As spouses' age and psychological distress increases and perceived social support decreases their BMI increases. Conclusions: Findings suggest the risk factors associated with being overweight or obese are minorities; male spouses; the ranks of E5 - E9; less than a four-year degree; as age and psychological distress scores increase so does BMI; and as perceived social support scores increase the BMI decreases. The risk factors may contribute to the Army Surgeon General's Performance Triad of sleep, activity, and nutrition and be used to assist Army personnel and Department of the Army (DA) civilians to teach spouses awareness and methods of changing behaviors that result in choosing healthy options.